Here's some contrarian advice: For great deals on Cyber Monday, turn off the computer and go bargain-hunting in real world stores.
As retailers up the deal ante this year with doorbuster-style online sales launched days or even weeks before Black Friday, Cyber Monday, still the biggest day for "thumb shopping," is losing its singular bargain edge.
"For brick-and-mortar retailers to remain competitive with all the Cyber Monday promotions [Target and Walmart, for example, are launching Cyber Sunday deals], they have to continue their sales promotions well into the week of Thanksgiving," Alex Schmelkin, co-founder and president of Alexander Interactive, which helps companies build online businesses, tells DailyFinance. "And they have to extend the same discounts online to their brick-and-mortar stores."
That wasn't always the case. In years passed, there was a lack of pricing consistency between merchants' e-commerce businesses and their stores. "Now, retailers have solved their channel conflict," Schmelkin says. And with more shoppers coming armed with price comparison mobile apps this holiday weekend, brick-and-mortar stores have yet another reason to deliver on the bargains.
Nab Deals on Upscale Merchandise
Shop in stores on Cyber Monday for deals on higher-end merchandise, recommends Dan de Grandpre, CEO and editor-in-chief of DealNews.com.
• Get the HD Picture: While Black Friday is the optimum day to snatch up deals on low-end electronics, Cyber Monday is when retailers trot out store sales on items such as high-end laptops, such as an HP (HPQ) model with a fast processor, de Grandpre says. Shoppers will also find bargains on feature-rich TVs, such as 3D and Internet-connected units. And you're better off examining product features like picture and sound quality in stores -- something you can't do online.
• Designers? Good! If you're in the market for upscale apparel and accessories, take advantage of the store sales at tony chains like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue (SKS) and Nordstrom (JWM) on Cyber Monday.
While these stores sit out Black Friday, they launch promotional events and designer sales on clothing from mid-tier luxury brands like Burberry, Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, de Grandpre says.
"Clothing is still just tricky to buy online for many reasons -- namely because fit is so important," says Christine Frietchen, editor in chief of ConsumerSearch.com, a review aggregator that compares product ratings from experts and user reviews. "So if you're buying clothing, that would be a good case for skipping cyber land."
On Cyber Monday, you'll also see store sales on upscale accessories, like handbags from brands such as Coach and Kate Spade, de Grandpre says.
• Think Frugally, Buy Locally: If you're looking for more idiosyncratic gifts, check out local retailers in your area, which often don't have an online storefront, but hold store sales on Cyber Monday, making it "a good day to support your local business," de Grandpre says.
"Every downtown has these little shops, where you'll see specialty clothing and accessories, fancy iPad cases, interesting jewelry, the kind of stuff you often can't find online," Grandpre says.
And buying from a independent stores means you can negotiate on price. "Haggling is something you can't easily do online."